1872 Letters

June 15, 1872 letter to Frank Tomlinson from Ethan Keith

June 15, 1872 

To: Frank Tomlinson

From: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

Writes that he was offered a position as a streetcar conductor in Chicago but that he isn’t well enough to try it. The Plank family is living in part of their house for the summer while Mr. Plank looks for land in several states.

Scan of 1872-06-15 Ethan Keith to Frank Tomlinson

Galesburg June 15th 1872

Cousin Frank,

Looking over my unanswered letters this morning I find that it has been about three months since I rec’d your letter. I think that it is high time it was answered. Our folks are all well as usual, & that is not very well.

We are having considerable wet weather, it rained very hard Tuesday night & Thursday forenoon. Nancy[1] rec’d a letter from Nellie[2] last Tuesday. She says tell Nellie that she is very much obliged for her Photographs. Will answer her letter before great while.

The Michigan Central R.R. Company has lost the Air Line so they are building large machine shops at Jackson & are laying another track.

I had the offer of a position as Street Car Conductor in Chicago about four weeks ago. If I was well enough I would go & try it.

I suppose you & Nellie will start for Mass. next week. Hope you will have a pleasant time. You must write & tell me what you see. You are going rather early to help harvest Sorghum.

Mr Planks family[3] are liveing in part of our house this Summer. Mr Plank has gone west looking land. He has been in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri & now he is in Southern Illinois. He likes Illinois the best.

Joe York[4] lives in Vicksburg this Summer. I rec’d a letter from Henry[5] the 10th of May said that he was a going to work in a Wholesale Variety store. I should think that would be a very good place for him as he seems to be in for learning a variety of trades. I wish he could get into some kind of business that would suit him, because he cannot make anything as long as he keeps shifting around so. Have they got a new Engine on your road yet. Henry said they talked some of getting one. Galesburg is expecting to have a new R.R. running from Quincy on the Michigan Southern to Grand Haven. I must close & go & pick potato bugs. Write soon. Love to all.


Ethan B. Keith


[1] His sister, Nancy (Keith) Brown

[2] Frank’s sister, Nellie Tomlinson

[3] William & Harriet (Groat) Plank and their children, William, Rebecca, Mary and Caroline. According to Charles Luke Keith Jr.’s 1873 diary, the Planks left for Grand Rapids, Michigan on April 3rd, and according to Harriet’s obituary (1916) she had been a resident of Grand Rapids for the past 43 years

[4] The husband of Ethan’s paternal first cousin, Helen (Bradley) York

[5] His half-brother, Henry Keith

*Thanks to Leigh Terrass, great-granddaughter of John Frank Tomlinson, for sharing this letter with me and allowing me to post it. In order to keep the letters chronological in the https://lettersfromthe1860s.wordpress.com/ blog post, it was given a posting date of 03-11-2018 even though it wasn’t until September of 2021 that I received the letters from Leigh

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